Tattoos, excessive piercings, and etc.
My neighbor said he got his tattoos in the WWII era, when he was "young and stupid" (his words). They're now blotchy & messy, he regrets it.
A young woman was asked why she had pierced tongue and lips answered "Because its cool."
Another young man did so because it marked him as in charge of himself, and the tattoos were marks of his control of his life and independence. He was his own boss now.
At a charter school, the teachers are (wisely) required to cover their tattoos with sufficient clothing or even bandaids-every day, to help discourage the tattoo genre lifestyle and its accompanied rebellion-things not needed in a school setting.
Some have struggled with legitimate mental depression, suicidal thoughts, unto cutting, and use a tattoo to cover, or even as a way to communicate to those "in the know" of their struggle. For such we have compassion in the struggle, and get your reason for taking the markings. We would not agree with the wisdom of it, but understand. Yet the permanent marking of the body- is that really the way forward?
NOW for specifics- What about believers and these things? What should their attitude be? Tattoos and excessive piercings, and even excessively colored hair?
Here are some thoughts from a Christian perspective. From one who has been young and is not yet old, who still sees both directions toward youth and unto old age, so to speak. It is also written only to those who profess the name of Christ...others can stop reading now, we judge you not, and have no word for you on this topic. Much of what is said will be lost on those not interested in spiritual things. You may close the page. But to the one professing Christ, consider the following:
Will I still want this tattoo or excessive piercing years from now (the former will not go away, the latter may depend on the nature of the piercing-hopefully no one can put a coke can through your earlobe). Will a future spouse like such things?
This will (not might but will ) cause another brother or sister to stumble. (Rom 14:21) Should I do it anyway? The answer is obvious - if I really love them. Even if I think I have such a liberty, the stumbling block to others is real. If my motive is self, I will get the tattoo or piercing, if it is love of Christ and others, I will refrain. And eventually be glad I didn't do so. One essential mark of a Christian is love for his brothers and sisters.
Is my reason for doing so based on faith and glorifying to God? How so?
Are my reasons along the lines of "it is cool" or "it is my independence & my right!". If so, my reasons are immature and juvenile and sound downright sinful. If I am young, remember Ephesians 6:1
Is one shred of reasoning why I am considering this because of the independence and desire to be set apart from parents, authorities, and/or cultural norms? Then my reasons have a rebellious root, and its time to put on the brakes. I Sam 15:23
Have I experienced some shameful or hurtful experiences that lead me to want to hide in an identify of tattoos, piercings, colored hair, odd clothes? If so, then what I need is not the piercing, nor the tattoo, nor the odd veneer, but something for the heart. Whether the experience is a personal sinful failure, or a victimization that I could not control, or even struggles with depression...the answer is not found in the extreme outward things I would hide behind. There is a better way than self destructive patterns. For those who did cutting or such as a teenager, that is truly a difficult question, we merely ask you to consider a better way, than marking your body further, permanently.
Is it expected in my peer group that I have such things to be "part" of the group? If so it may be that my peer circle isn't a wise one. Yes it may make me alone to act another way, but there is a God in heaven who is a greater resource than fickle peer dependencies. If I am a true believer it may be very good for me to be ostracized from such a group.
I may say, Isn't this a matter of liberty and a doubtful thing and therefore up to me? Yes I suppose it is, but does it stand the test of Romans 14:23 and the above conversation? It would be very hard to say.........it does.......right?
Have I noticed the ambiance and environment of tattoo and piercing businesses? This alone says much, does it not?
Tough guys get them. And tough girls. No comment, except to say the spiritually minded believer doesn't need comment here, it is hoped.
I already have a tattoo(s) that I now regret, etc, what about me? (for believers- still)
Seek the reasons why you did so, face them and take it to the Lord. If you find the independent, rebellious, and/or anti-authority as your root, deal with it. Then cover it if you can with modest clothing, cease the odd piercing that to many looks rebellious. If your markings are very visible and obvious, make it known to your circle of believers that you regret it, and you will find it is easy to move forward. Christian love is like that and you will find kindness, because others who know their position in Christ know their own failures and appreciate the penitent heart very much. It is the kind of attitude that builds love you know, whereas the pride and self will and rebellion does the opposite. (if the reader at this point is angry, may I ask you why?)
There will still be regrets, and "looks" and yes judgments made and such. But we bring things upon ourselves, be not quick to blame them for the "look". Wasn't part of the original reason you did it was for a look? Be mature and don't blame them for "looking!"
You may also think in your mind, "why make such a big deal about it?" Fair question. the answer is, you made a big deal when you went down that road with such an outward and visible thing. So really the "big deal" was your doing. Move forward in love, take your lumps. Press on to the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Piercings, Tattoos, goth looks and the like, are not "upward" things, and you know it. If you did it before conversion to Christ, much of the advice above is still valid. If done as a Christian and is found to have had wrong motives, do what you can to move forward, and move forward in Christian maturity and let not your liberty be a stumbling block to others, lest you be found not acting in love.
Let us do what honors the Lord, not what marks us as part of the increasingly lawless culture around us.
Romans 14:23 ...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
1 Samuel 15:23 ... rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.
Liberties are the areas where most conflict occurs between believers. A young person wants to be treated as an adult. Excessive piercings, tattoos, and colored hair, do not endear one to such adulthood identification. It keeps one in the youthful rebellion category, not the adulthood category, like it or not, that's the way it is.
Wrapping up the pertinent ideas:
Our body is not our own, but rather God’s temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Scripture has a high view of the believer's body as God’s handiwork, we should take care not to disfigure it.
The believer's primary motive for anything is the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). If something we do seeks to draw attention to self, that is not glorifying Him. What else is a tattoo?
A faith-it article says about tattoos and modesty: is hard to believe that anyone with a “tramp stamp” (a tattoo on the lower back) is really seeking to direct people’s thoughts toward God.
It can be good training for a young person to learn to bridle their liberties and desires in view of how the aged will perceive such thing. Not in a legalistic sense, but in a way that teaches them love. Part of Christian love is to avoid those things that offend my brother or sister in Christ.
Those that are aged understand very well what its like to be young (believe it or not-they once were) and while their experiences differed, they know what underlies much young behavior. Their wisdom is valuable.
And finally, an article by living traditionally.com from March 2014, says addresses the question from the medical and sexual perspective, which should give great pause:
Tattoo inks contain a myriad of heavy metals. Red tattoo inks often contain mercury, and tattoos pierce the skin leaving the ink permanently embedded. FDA has not approved any tattoo pigments for injection into the skin. Tattoo parlors are regulated by the state and city, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require manufacturers to release their ink’s ingredients; doing so could supposedly give away trade secrets. The lack of regulation is slightly unnerving considering that 36 percent of people ages 18-25 have tattoos, as do 40 percent of those 26-40 years old. That means approximately 45 million Americans have been inked, and one-third of those did so because it makes them feel “sexy.”